Hydrants to be mapped

Published 12:01 am Saturday, September 3, 2011

ERIC SHELTON | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT A car passes by a fire hydrant on Club Drive Friday afternoon in the Beau Pré subdivision. Hydrant locations will be mapped by the county and entered into a computer system which may make a difference in insurance rates — especially outside the city limits in areas like the Beau Pré subdivision.

NATCHEZ — Adams County homeowners outside the city limits could get dollars shaved off their insurance rates once a project to digitally map an updated inventory of fire hydrants is completed.

The Adams County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously at an Aug. 17 budget meeting to appoint Emergency Management Director Stan Owens as a coordinator of a project to plug all hydrant locations into the county’s Geographical Information System.

District 5 Supervisor S.E. “Spanky” Felter suggested the county update hydrant locations in the GIS, which he said could affect insurance rates.

GIS is a computerized mapping system that maps “layers” of different types of information, with fire hydrants being one layer of information.

“Insurance companies do look at (hydrant locations),” Felter said.

Owens said the last time the county mapped hydrants was approximately 11 years ago.

David Cothren, an insurance agent with Byrne Insurance Company, said some companies do use GIS maps to calculate insurance rates based on a residence’s proximity to fire hydrants.

Most insurance companies give all city residents the same consideration of fire protection when underwriting insurance plans, Cothren said.

“(Hydrant locations) will not make much difference inside the city,” Cothren said.

“Where it’s going to make difference is for people in the county, in the Beau Pré area and most of the newly developed areas.”

For example, if a homeowner lives within 500 feet of a hydrant, they might get a better rate, Cothren said.

Owens said the county contains approximately 350 to 370 fire hydrants.

Felter said at the meeting that only approximately 150 hydrants were currently mapped in GIS.

Owens said he will work with the Adams County Water Association to map the majority of the hydrants outside the city limits when they do their routine inventory in January.

“(By) early spring (the project) should be completed,” Owens said. “It’s just gong to take a while.”

ACWA employees will use handheld GPS units to track the coordinates of each hydrant, GIS project coordinator Peter Dale said. From there, GIS personnel will update the maps with the new and old data, he said.

Owens said he would personally track the coordinates of the remaining 50 or so hydrants that are not covered by ACWA in Broadmoor, Oakland and Bryandale.

Other information the GIS provides includes land parcel information for tax assessment purposes, water and sewer management information and information and addresses used by Emergency 911.

Board President Darryl Grennell said updating the fire hydrant inventory would also aid fire departments in emergencies.

“When a fire is in the area, the fire department will know where to hook up to a fire plug,” Grennell said.

“(Hydrants) can (also) be programmed into the GIS navigation system, which is the future for emergency services.”

Owens said the city is also working to update its hydrant inventory on GIS.